Hazing at the University of Pittsburgh is prohibited. Hazing is a violation of Student Code of Conduct and its anti-hazing provision. Hazing may also be considered a criminal offense pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Anti-Hazing Law. In accordance with this law, the University is required to publish all violations of the institution’s Student Code of Conduct related to hazing or federal or state laws related to hazing. As of Fall 2021, the Office of Compliance, Investigations, and Ethics has assumed responsibility for hazing violations for the Oakland Campus. The hazing report can be located on the Office of Compliance, Investigations, and Ethics website.
University of Pittsburgh Anti-Hazing Policy and Adjudication Process
Hazing at the University of Pittsburgh is considered a Violation of the University’s Anti-Hazing Policy and Code and is absolutely prohibited. Hazing may also be considered a criminal act in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For purposes of this definition, any activity as described in this definition upon which the initiation or admission into or affiliation with or continued membership in an organization is directly or indirectly conditioned shall be presumed to be “forced” activity, the willingness of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding. Therefore, any Student who causes or participates in hazing may be subject to appropriate University discipline and/or may be subject to criminal prosecution.
Hazing is defined as follows:
A person commits hazing if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, for the purpose of initiating, admitting or affiliating a minor or student into or with an organization, or for the purpose of continuing or enhancing a minor or student’s membership or status in an organization, causes, coerces or forces a minor or student to do any of the following:
- Violate Federal or State criminal law;
- Consume any food, liquid, alcoholic liquid, drug, or other substance which subjects the minor or student to a risk of emotional or physical harm;
- Endure brutality of a physical nature, including whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, or exposure to the elements;
- Endure brutality of a mental nature, including activity adversely affecting the mental health or dignity of the individual, sleep deprivation, exclusion from social contact or conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment;
- Endure brutality of a sexual nature;
- Endure any other activity that creates a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to the minor or student.
A person commits aggravated hazing if the person commits a Violation of hazing that results in serious bodily injury or death to the minor or student and:
- the person acts with reckless indifference to the health and safety of the minor or student; or,
- the person causes, coerces, or forces the consumption of an alcoholic liquid or drug by the minor or student.
A Registered Student Organization commits organizational hazing if the organization intentionally, knowingly or recklessly promotes or facilitates a Violation of hazing or aggravated hazing.
Hazing Adjudication Process
The Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics (CIE Office) will work collaboratively with the University of Pittsburgh Police Department in the investigation of alleged hazing events. Ultimately, all reports of hazing will be referred to the Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics (CIE) for internal investigation either following or during a police investigation.
Several options are available for you to report hazing. Students and others are encouraged to report incidents, and suspected incidents of hazing. Reports may be made to the University Police (412-624-2121), or the Office of Compliance, Investigations and Ethics at (412-383-4553), email@example.com.
Although the University encourages students and others to make formal reports, you may file an anonymous report with the University Police online at http://police.pitt.edu/anonymous-tip-line and/or Pitt Concern Connections. Anonymous reports greatly limit the University’s ability to respond to and investigate the report.
As noted above, all hazing allegations should be reported to the University of Pittsburgh Police Department and/or the CIE Office. In addition, hazing related to any University of Pittsburgh athletics teams may also be reported to the Director of Athletics at 412-648-8230 or the Associate Athletic Director for Student Life and Compliance at 412-648-8452. Hazing related to any University of Pittsburgh fraternity and sorority life chapter organization may also be reported to the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life/Office of Cross Cultural and Leadership Development at (412) 648-9523. Hazing related to any University of Pittsburgh student organization may also be reported to the Student Organization Resource Center at (412) 624-7115.
As part of the University’s response to a report of hazing, and regardless of whether there has been a request for formal disciplinary or law enforcement action, the University may impose interim measures or offer accommodations to address issues that impact the Complainant or Respondent’s educational, living or work environments. These interim measures can often be put in place very quickly, prior to the resolution of any complaint, investigation, or criminal proceeding.
Once imposed, the University will take necessary action to enforce the implemented measures. Anyone who becomes aware of, or has a concern about, a Student’s failure to follow any University-imposed interim measure or accommodation, should report this concern to the Office of Student Conduct at 412-648-7910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advisor or Support Person
Both a Complainant and a Respondent are entitled to one advisor or support person of their choice, and the advisor or support person may accompany the party to any meeting or proceeding under these processes. However, the advisor or support person shall not be permitted to participate directly in the process. This includes advisors who are also attorneys. An advisor or support person may not stand in place of either the Complainant or the Respondent, and information regarding the progress of the inquiry or investigation will only be shared with the Complainant or Respondent, and not the advisor of choice. If the advisor or support person has any questions, they should contact the Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics, not the individual investigator. In keeping with the University’s desire to resolve hazing complaints in a timely manner, the University reserves the right to proceed with any meeting regardless of the availability of the Student’s/Registered Student Organization’s advisor or support person.
The investigation of hazing allegations involves a prompt and equitable investigation conducted by an investigator assigned to the Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics (CIE Office). The investigation is a fact-finding process, giving all parties notice and the opportunity to be heard, to identify witnesses and to offer evidence, and to pose questions to parties and witnesses.
The process will generally progress as follows:
- Once a report is received, the Investigator will attempt to interview witnesses and identify relevant parties, including any Complainants or Respondents.
- Following the completion of initial interviews, the investigator will notify the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Compliance, Investigations & Ethics as to whether or not the allegations, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of a University Policy violation or a violation of the Student Code of Conduct related to hazing.
- If the investigator’s notification indicates that such an allegation, if substantiated, would not constitute a violation, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Compliance, Investigations & Ethics may close the investigation and that decision shall be final, barring new information.
- In the event that the investigator’s notification indicates that the allegations, if substantiated, would constitute a violation of University policy, the investigator shall conduct a full investigation. Steps in the investigations may involve the following actions:
- Interviewing members of Registered Student Organizations
- Interviewing witnesses, including the Respondent(s) and Complainant(s)
- Collecting evidence
- Documenting all evidence collection and interviews
- Collaborating with multiple departments to gather relevant information
- Requesting that parties to the investigation provide information and names of witnesses to the investigator
- Reasonable rules of relevancy will guide the investigator in evaluating evidence and witness statements.
- Following the gathering and evaluation of evidence, the investigator will prepare a report of investigation. Any identified parties (Respondents and Complainants) will be provided with an opportunity to review and comment upon a summary of their interview. Parties shall have five (5) days to review and comment. The final report will conclude with a determination about whether a violation has occurred. The investigator shall apply the preponderance of the evidence standard, asking whether it is more likely than not that University policy or the Student Code of Conduct related to hazing has been violated.
- The report will be reviewed by the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Compliance, Investigations & Ethics for review and input. The final report will be provided to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or their designee, who will determine sanctions. Regardless of the finding, a letter including the findings and/or sanctions (if applicable) will be sent to the parties.
A Respondent may appeal in accordance with the Level II appeal process detailed in Chapter 5 of the Code.
Prohibition of Retaliation
Retaliation is prohibited and will constitute separate grounds for disciplinary action. Retaliation is the act of taking adverse action against any person involved in the investigation process based upon the person’s reporting or participation in the process. Retaliation includes behavior on the party of any related person or party. Although independent action will be taken against anyone engaging in retaliation, any party to the investigation should not encourage such actions and will also be held responsible to the extent of their involvement in the retaliation. An individual who believes they have experienced retaliation should contact the Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics.